December 2, 2018
READ: Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry (vv.1-2).
I can resist anything except temptation.” We might smile at this quip by Oscar Wilde, but it also may invite us to challenge ourselves: Has our pursuit of holiness—reflecting God and conforming to His will—been weakened through the corrosive influence of modern culture’s love of pleasure? How can we, as we seek to honour God, resist temptation?
Some believers continue the process of conforming to God’s will by observing the season of Lent. Traditionally, the forty days leading up to Easter Sunday and modelled after the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness, Lent has been a time for believers to examine their hearts, minds and souls prayerfully. Some people abstain from certain foods or drinks, while others add positive behaviours, such as an act of daily kindness.
This season can be a time to seek the purifying work of the Holy Spirit as we prepare to celebrate the gift of our risen Saviour. During Lent, we can remember Jesus’ testing in the wilderness, which came at the start of His ministry following His baptism (Matthew 3:13-4:1). He didn’t thunder into Jerusalem to seize authority, but—led by the Spirit—withdrew to be tempted by the devil (4:1). With the help of the Holy Spirit, He resisted the devil’s three temptations (to turn stones to bread, to jump off the temple and to worship Satan), because He sought to follow the will of His Father (vv.3-10).
As we seek the help of the Holy Spirit, we too can follow Jesus’ example by standing firm against the devil, our fallen nature and the world’s temptations. As we follow God’s will through His Spirit, we can begin to reflect His ways, not only in Lent but throughout our lives. May we pursue holiness in God’s strength.
—Amy Boucher Pye
365-day plan: Ephesians 6:10-20
Read a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:1-18 and consider what it reveals about our motives when praying, fasting and giving.
Consider a time when you observed practices that helped you to turn from sin to God. What were they? How did they help you in your pursuit of being set apart for Him?